## Highlight duplicate values in a cell range

The following conditional formula highlights only the second instance or more of a value in a cell range.

**Conditional formatting formula:**

**How to apply conditional formatting**

- Select your range B2:E5.
- Go to "Home" tab
- Click Conditional formatting
- Click "New Rule.."
- Click "Use a formula to determine what cells to format"
- Copy and paste the above conditional formatting formula to "Format values where this formula is true:"
- Click Format button
- Select a formatting you like. For example, cells filled with yellow.
- Click OK
- Click OK

### Explaining CF formula in cell B2

There are two parts in this formula, one part determines if a value is a duplicate in the first column. The second part of the formula determines if a value is a duplicate in the remaining columns.

The reason the formula looks like this is because of the order of how Excel calculates cells.

IF(*logical_expression*, *first_part*, *second_part*)

#### Step 1 - Check if first column is being evaluated

The COLUMNS function counts columns in a cell reference. $A$1:A1 is an expanding cell reference, it grows because A1 is a relative cell reference that changes between cells.

COLUMNS($A$1:A1)=1

becomes

1=1 and returns TRUE.

#### Step 2 - Count cells based on a condition

The IF function changes the calculation based on the logical expression in the first argument. The second argument is calculated if the logical expression returns TRUE, the third argument is calculated if the logical expression returns FALSE.

The COUNTIF function makes sure that duplicates are not highlighted, only the first instance of each value. However this works only in the first column, the remaining columns need a different formula in order to do correct calculations.

IF(COLUMNS($A$1:A1)=1,COUNTIF($B$2:B2,B2),COUNTIF($B$2:B2,B2)+COUNTIF(OFFSET($B$2:$E$5,,,4,COLUMNS($A$1:A1)-1),B2))>1

becomes

IF(TRUE,COUNTIF($B$2:B2,B2),...)>1

becomes

IF(TRUE,COUNTIF(0,0),...)>1

becomes

1>1

and returns FALSE. Cell B2 is not highlighted.

#### Step 3 - Calculations in remaining columns

If we move to cell C2 the IF function behaves differently.

IF(COLUMNS($A$1:B1)=1, COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2), COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2)+COUNTIF(OFFSET($B$2:$E$5, ,,4, COLUMNS($A$1:B1)-1), B2))>1

becomes

IF(2=1, COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2),COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2)+COUNTIF(OFFSET($B$2:$E$5, , , 4, COLUMNS($A$1:B1)-1), C2))>1

becomes

IF(FALSE, COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2), COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2)+COUNTIF(OFFSET($B$2:$E$5, , , 4, COLUMNS($A$1:B1)-1), C2))>1

becomes

IF(FALSE, ~~COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2)~~, COUNTIF({0,6}, 6)+COUNTIF(OFFSET($B$2:$E$5, , , 4, COLUMNS($A$1:B1)-1), C2))>1

The OFFSET function returns an expanding cell reference that grows as the CF moves from column to column.

IF(FALSE, ~~COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2)~~, 1+COUNTIF(OFFSET($B$2:$E$5, , , 4, 1), C2))>1

becomes

IF(FALSE, ~~COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2)~~, 1+COUNTIF($B$2:$B$5, C2))>1

becomes

IF(FALSE, ~~COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2)~~, 1+COUNTIF({0;11;14;16},6))>1

becomes

IF(FALSE, ~~COUNTIF($B$2:C2, C2)~~, 1+0)>1

becomes

1>1 and returns FALSE. Cell C2 is not highlighted.

**Highlight all duplicates**

To highlight all duplicates is much easier, the formula simply counts how many times the current value exists in the cell range.

**Download excel *.xlsx file**

Highlight duplicates in a filtered Excel defined table

You can highlight duplicates in an excel defined table using conditional formatting. However, that won´t work if you only want […]

Highlight overlapping date ranges using conditional formatting

The image above demonstrates a conditional formatting formula that colors a record if there is at least one record that […]

Highlight records based on overlapping date ranges and a condition

adam asks: Hi, I have a situation where I want to count if this value is duplicate and if it […]

Highlight dates in a date range

Question: How do I highlight dates that meet criteria using conditional formatting? Table of contents Highlight values in a column […]

This post demonstrates how to highlight records with the closest value to a criterion, you can also choose to highlight […]

This blog post shows you how to easily identify duplicate rows or records in a list. Conditional formatting formula: =COUNTIFS($B$3:$B$15, […]

### 2 Responses to “Highlight duplicate values in a cell range”

### Leave a Reply

### How to comment

**How to add a formula to your comment**

<code>Insert your formula here.</code>

**Convert less than and larger than signs**

Use html character entities instead of less than and larger than signs.

< becomes < and > becomes >

**How to add VBA code to your comment**

[vb 1="vbnet" language=","]

Put your VBA code here.

[/vb]

**How to add a picture to your comment:**

Upload picture to postimage.org or imgur

Use the img tag, like this: <img src="Insert pic link here">

**Contact Oscar**

You can contact me through this contact form

When you modiy to move to anu other column apart from 'A' the the first instance of the duplicate also highlights.

David Gordon,

You are right, I believe the new formula I have added to this post is more useful.

Thanks for commenting!